Health insurance is very expensive, especially if you must buy it on the open market. The cost of private insurance for an older individual can easily reach over $10,000 per year. TRICARE, which is the healthcare plan for service members, is such a valuable healthcare plan but it takes a long-term marriage to qualify. If you are married to a service member, it’s smart to negotiate that the marriage continues until the 20 year mark if that milestone is relatively near.
Qualification to keep TRICARE after divorce is governed Under Federal (not state) eligibility rules. To be eligible for lifetime TRICARE, a former spouse must meet the 20/20/20 rule. That means they must have been married to the service member for at least 20 years, the service member must have 20 years creditable service, and those 20 years of marriage and 20 years of service must overlap. Qualifying former spouses will also keep on base commissary and exchange privileges. Former spouses should be aware that they will lose TRICARE for life if (1) they remarry, even if the remarriage ends in death or divorce (unless you gain eligibility under your new spouse), or (2) they purchase and are covered by an employer-sponsored health plan.
A former spouse may continue TRICARE for one-year post divorce if they meet the 20/20/15 rule. That means they must have been married to the service member for at least 20 years, the service member must have at least 20 years creditable service, and 15 years of marriage and 15 years of service must overlap. Former spouses who meet the 20/20/15 rule will not get base commissary and exchange privileges.
In both cases, caution must be taken for service members who were in the reserves for any part of those years because their “years of service” are based on points, and not straight calendar years. Former spouses have 90 days post-divorce to enroll.
You can read more in the links below.
If neither the 20/20/20 nor 20/20/15 rules are met, then the former spouse may then qualify under the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). This is similar to COBRA coverage and former spouses have only 60 days post-divorce to enroll. You can call (800) 809-6119 for CHCBP eligibility and explore two links below.